Commentary: A little good news


By Rev. Laura Easto*

Eight years ago the United Methodist Church accepted the challenge to eradicate malaria around the world. It was amazing to watch that pledge pour down into congregations! We played basketball to raise money, youth groups went into the ocean in the dead cold of winter to raise money – you know what you did and good grief all together we raised $68 million!  Lives are being saved ALL OVER THE WORLD because we came together as a people called United Methodists and said, “No more malaria!” Cool, right?!

There are huge billboards around the Convention Center in Portland that ask, “What’s next?” I am so excited because the General Conference has affirmed that Children are next! The whole thing is called Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children, and I am happy!

This is a priority that is locally focused and just as relevant in the United States as it is anywhere else in the world. Our national average concerning children living in poverty is staggering. Twenty-one percent of our children are living in poverty in the United States. That’s almost one in four.

But let me be specific to the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. In the state of Maryland, 13% of our children live in poverty. That’s approximately 171,000 kids. That equals the number United Methodists in our annual conference. Baltimore city mourns with 24% of kids in poverty. Washington, D.C., you live with 27% of your children in poverty. West Virginia, 33% of your children go to bed hungry at night.

The United Methodist Church is saying enough is enough!  Our goal is to reach one million kids with lifesaving interventions over the next four years. We are going to make birth safer, promote good nutrition, prevent and treat childhood diseases, and pay attention to the total health and wholeness of kids.

But you know the truth. All these delegates are going home soon and you are going to need to embrace this initiative with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and all your mind.  (Luke 10:27)

Kids living in poverty are at greater risk for everything ugly. It’s not a United Methodist problem, but we sure as heck could be the leaders of the solution. This is something we can agree on, can’t we? I mean I know I’m thinking about my granddaughter, Kamiyah, when I say that EVERYBODY’S child has a right to be fed nutritionally with access to good health care. I also think we ought to be cuddling babies and laughing with toddlers and reading with youngsters, walking with middle-highers, mentoring high-schoolers, and in general making a place for young people to take leadership in our churches. But now I’m just meddling.

For now, I’ll be satisfied if we can just agree to make kids the Next Thing!


*The Rev. Laura Easto is the District Superintendent of the Baltimore Suburban District of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference. Laura has been a featured blogger at throughout General Conference 2016. 

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Richard F HicksDale ward Recent comment authors
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Dale ward
Dale ward

Now that is something. United for a biblical purpose. Servants to the poor and afflicted = UMC. Leading communities to Christ through Word and Deed. My hope is those we lead will still find the Church United in Truth. May God find us Faithful.

Richard F Hicks
Richard F Hicks

Get your head outta the small world of the GC! Yesterday the WHO announced that in the last 15 years life spans had increased by 5 years. The biggest increase is in Africa. The world just keeps getting better and better!!! In the US the largest factor in childhood poverty is father absence. Making babies with men to whom you aren’t married in stable marriages is just stupid. See Daniel Patrick Moynahan’s brilliant work “The Negro Family.” Thank you, Richard F Hicks, OKC

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